Nafees Mahmood, ‘Goldy ‘ to us cousins and ‘Mol’ to her siblings, was born in Delhi during her father’s posting to our High Commission there in the late 1950s. Thereafter she grew up in different parts of Pakistan and also in Bangkok, as per her parents’ subsequent tours of duty.
Petite and pretty, her fine-featured looks and composure she took from her graceful mother Suraiya; while her inner core of steel came from her father, celebrated policeman MAK Chaudhry. Whatever the situation, including her trying, almost decade-long final illness, she was never seen to lose either her cool or her control – as those who visited her, and the doctors who attended her in Lahore and in London, would testify with admiration.
To think back to normal and happier times, I recall two cameos of her in particular. Goldy off to College in Cadet uniform, in her parents’ residence off Margalla Road Islamabad, so smart in her khaki shalwar qamis, sach-tied dupatta and brown beret tilted over her lovely long locks. And much later, descending the staircase at the family home in Garden Town Lahore in a very stylish ‘dupatta design’ ensemble in vivid hues of pink.
She spoke with moderation, and had a fine sense of humour; delivering punch-lines in that familiar laconic tone, and appreciating incoming jokes in her low-key chuckle. She had a high sense of family, and never defaulted on visiting family elders when in other cities or countries; or being there on family occasions both celebratory and otherwise, giving generously and quietly of her time, attention and affection.
In these relatively recent years, perhaps when she most needed to be, and to the comfort of all who loved and cared about her, she was blessed with the marriages of her daughter Mehr to Sharjeel and son Faisal to Maheen, and the arrival of her grandchildren Nael, Arya and Maya. She doted on them, her ‘Chandas and Chandan’, endearingly seeing to the details such as daily stocking the freezer with their favourite icy treats to welcome them home from school.
Whatever the situation, including her trying, almost decade-long final illness, she was never seen to lose either her cool or her control – as those who visited her, and the doctors who attended her in Lahore and in London, would testify with admiration
She was blessed likewise with a wonderful support system: initially her beloved father, then her devoted mother and siblings Moazzam and Farrukh; her brother-in-law and bhabi Shahrukh and Noreen; her children, nephew Ali, nieces Maheen and Shanzeh; uncles and aunts; and a contingent of cousins from a classically close family.
Even during her years between sickness and health, with the dangers always hovering on the horizon, and scheduled/unscheduled checkups and contingent, trying travel sometimes several times a year, she managed to maintain her well-groomed looks, her confidence, her interest in and awareness of the world around her, and her rapport with friends - such as Tehmina, Naveed, Amber, Laila, and Saadia - and family. “I saw Goldy the other day at that function,” said Maliha in Lahore, “and she looked so pretty!”
“I met Goldy Khala just recently, and she looked lovely as always!’ relayed Sabiha’s daughter Nazia from London.
An avid reader, among her favourite authors was Greg Iles, his suspense novels set in the swampy American south. I remember just a few years ago avidly discussing the merits of smart TVs, VOD and Netflix with her in the welcoming lounge of their elegant abode in Defence Lahore.
Another memory with Goldy is going over Faisal and Maheen’s exquisite wedding album with our cousin, and their near-neighbour, Naheed; and our youngest chachi Neelam, in our Aunt’s room. It was an ambience of relaxed enjoyment, to treasure and savour.
She was a real Rajput.